Craig Gordon: Scotland ‘in better position now’ to face Ukraine and Ireland
Craig Gordon feels Scotland are much better prepared physically and mentally to face Ukraine and Republic of Ireland after having to “grind out” performances against their Nations League opponents in June.
Scotland conceded three goals against each of their upcoming adversaries in their post-season international schedule.
A Hampden defeat by Ukraine ended Scotland’s World Cup hopes and their Nations League bid took a battering in Dublin.
But two comfortable wins over Armenia and results in other games have left Scotland with everything to play for ahead of another hectic programme.
Scotland host Ukraine on Wednesday before taking on the Irish and then Ukraine again inside a week.
Hearts goalkeeper Gordon, who is confident of shaking off a knee knock, said: “It was a disappointing camp all round last time, and we need to do better. We know that.
“It’s a different stage of the season. Hopefully we have got a lot more players who are in a better frame of mind, better condition, than we were at the end of last season.
“There were a lot of tired players trying to grind it out at a difficult stage of the season. A lot of players had played 50-60 games already leading up to that, and it’s impossible to keep going at the very highest level when you have to play that amount of games.”
Gordon, who went into the camp on the back of a Scottish Cup final defeat, added: “You had a lot of players who had had a lot of disappointments towards the end of the season, missing out on Champions League, top-four qualification, whatever it may be.
“There were a few players who had disappointing ends to the season and it was very difficult then to lift it to go again.
“However much mentally you want to do it, physically when you have played that amount of football, it is difficult to do.
“Hopefully we are in a better position now. We will be desperate to go out there and put that right and get ourselves to the top of the group.
“It’s a new season now, everyone has gone through pre-season and started their seasons so hopefully we are all in a good place and ready to give everything we have got to get the points we need.”
The 39-year-old won his 70th cap in Armenia and could overtake Tom Boyd into sixth place in the list of Scotland’s most capped players this month.
The former Sunderland and Celtic goalkeeper, who made his senior debut for his country in 2004, is in no mood to step back on his international duties.
“I just love it,” he said. “I love playing for Scotland. It’s the highest level that you can play at, really, and every time I am fortunate enough to go out and play for Scotland is a huge honour for me.
“It motivates me to keep playing well for Hearts and to be able to be involved in the national team. I don’t want to give my place up easily.
“I’ve fought so hard over the years with different goalkeepers to earn as many caps as I have and I want to keep going and get as many as I can. As long as my body feels good and I’m still able to play, I will try and continue to play as long as I can.”
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox